Apr 17, 2019

Homeschool Review Crew: Crosswired Science

I was asked to provide an informational review for a fun new science product: CrossWired Science. Currently they have two projects up and ready to go: Sound, and Fluid Dynamics and they are working hard at adding a ton more stuff. 

CrossWired Science is currently a great way to supplement your science for all of your kids from ages 4 to 18. I say "currently" because they fully intend to be a complete science program very soon. 

CrossWired Science is an online program that is super easy to navigate and safe for even your young kids. 

I set my kids up their own accounts under my teacher account. It only took a couple of minutes. Then they could access and get on whenever they needed to and I could keep track of their progress. 

There are several tabs at the top, explaining the whys and hows of the curriculum, but the two tabs of most importance to the user are the Curriculum tab and the Parent/Teacher tab. 

Using the Curriculum tab, you get two options: First Timers and Second Timers. These options are to give depth to the program. First Timers is for young kids and/or people who are new to the topic. Second Timers is for older people and/or kids going through the material again. The difference is that the Second Timers' text and questions are on a harder, deeper level and more difficult. If you are curious, you can see examples of this in the Sample Lessons. 

Naturally, using the material for the first time, we chose the First Timers option. This takes you to this screen, where you can choose which of the two topics (Sound or Fluid Dynamics) you want.

We chose Fluid Dynamics to start off with because who can resist such an adorable tiger? This brought us to this screen, which gave us the option of which lesson to do. As you can see by the little green check mark, when I took this screenshot, we had completed the first lesson.

To choose a lesson, you just click on the picture. This takes you to three things.
  • a video containing the lesson
  • a quiz on the video
  • a link to a worksheet corresponding to the video

The video is a lively and engaging lesson packed with information. 

The worksheet is in PDF format that you can print out and  contains a series of short answer questions about the information on the video. 

The quiz is online and you can just scroll down and click on the answers. It is self grading and you get the results immediately. I had an issue with this quiz, because I was easily able to take it as I watched the video. So basically, unless I was sitting right there watching them take it AFTER they watched the video, I did not trust the grade they received. 

After the first four lessons, we came to the experiments section. As you can see, there is a long list of experiments to choose from. 

Clicking on each option brings you to a PDF page something like this. Supply lists, directions, links to videos and snippets of information. You can print these or just read and click the links right off the form.

Next is a research assignment. There is a list of topics to choose from, parameters set, resources, and boxes to type in the results of your research. 

Then there is a list of links for further exploration. The student cannot just click on the links, however. You can do that from the parent/teacher dashboard so the child has supervision and can't just click around the Internet.

There are also book suggestions, devotionals, field trip suggestions and even more links to explore. 

The Parent/Teacher tab offers you a plethora of options:

  • my account (just what it sounds like, a place to look at your subscription, address, email, change your password, etc.)
  • manage my students (a list of your students, their emails and what I think are their passwords, also tells you their status)
  • student progress (tells you what percentage each student has completed of each course and if they finished it, what date it was completed)
  • quiz results (lets you see the scores of each quiz even to telling you which answers are wrong/right)
  • teacher resources (has links to 14 "super tips", the calendars and the student dashboard)
  • calendars (several suggested schedules for the course)
  • worksheets (answer keys for the worksheets)
  • general links (the real embedded links so that you can watch the exterior videos with your child)
  • unit links (embedded links for the units)

CrossWired Science is a fun and educational program. We had a good time poking around the site and learning a bunch of new science. They have been working on it during our review period and I think it is going to be truly amazing when they are finished. We give it a thumbs up, but don't just take our word for it, click on the banner below to read more reviews!

Sound, and Fluid Dynamics {CrossWired Science Reviews}
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Apr 11, 2019

Homeschool Review Crew: Everyday Education

I started homeschooling my kids way back in preK, when "school" consisted of making bear ear headbands and reading books in blanket caves. I never had any real need or desire to ever send them to a traditional school, not even when people asked, "But... what about HIGH SCHOOL?!?!?!"

High School can be a big, scary place to a homeschool mom. I am blessed to have a lot of friends who have walked before me into that scary land and gave me a lot of comfort, guidance and advice. 

This year I have a 10th grader and a 9th grader. I have been, per said advice, keeping a record of what the kids need to study, what they are doing and what their grades are. But I haven't really given much to thought to transcripts beyond that. I have plenty of time for that, I thought!

Well, yeah. Even if you don't have a homeschool high school kid, you know I'm crazy! You never have plenty of time. That's why I was interested in reviewing a book on how to actually make my kids' transcripts easily.

This book is divided into six parts:

Meet the Transcript: this covers what the transcript is and who needs it as well as who is going to look at your child's transcript and identifies all the different parts of a good transcript. This was very helpful in giving me a good idea of what exactly my transcripts should look like.

Plan with the End in Mind: this talks a lot about what exact credits are required, lists some basic skills and habits your teen needs to develop and offers some ideas about scheduling and standardized tests. It also gives you Seven Strategies for a Successful First Year at College and gives you some alternatives to a college education.

Keep Simple Records: this, of course, tells you some easy but effective ways to keep all those records. Also what you should keep, and how to do simple things like naming your courses.

Grades, Credit and the GPA: this covers all the grading... from ethics to unschooling to honors classes to how to calculate a GPA.

Create the Transcript: and now we come to actually physically making the transcript. This section goes from fine details like fonts and paper to formats and diplomas with plenty of samples to look at and get ideas from.

References, Resources and Reproducibles: This section defines terms like FAFSA, portfolio and matriculate. Then there are lists of helpful books and websites. And finally, my favorite part... the printables! There are Logs, Worksheets, and Transcript Forms in horizontal, vertical and check off formats.

This book was a quick read, although I do plan to go back and focus on areas I need specific help. It was concise and to the point, but still packed full of helpful information.

This book is useful for moms who haven't yet reached high school at all as well as moms like me who are in the middle of it. There is even a special section for moms with high school seniors!

I am excited to have this in my toolbox as I prepare to create not just one but four transcripts in the next few years!

Click on the banner to see what other Crew members thought!

Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler's Guide to High-School Paperwork {Everyday Education Reviews}
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Apr 5, 2019

The Fantastic Four

Having teenagers is nothing like what I expected. They are crazy, full of drama, eternally hungry, messy, noisy, and simply do not bathe or sleep as much as they truly should.

On the other hand, they are helpful, kind, full of deep thought and outrageously hilarious on a daily basis.

They are unique. They have opinions and ideas that often startle and usually inspire me. They are bold and full of big dreams and amazing plans.

And yet, they still want to curl up and snuggle with their mom on a frequent basis. It doesn't get any better than that. 

Mar 29, 2019

Scout Like A Girl

Our boys have been Scouts since they were big enough to join. We are all so excited that now our girls get to join in on all the fun!

Mar 21, 2019

Homeschool Review Crew: Tied 2 Teaching

Science is a favorite around here. We especially love science projects that expect us to get actively involved and get our hands dirty, (so to speak) so we were excited to be asked to review STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading from Tied 2 Teaching

This product was a PDF download in a zip file. As the name implies, it is a large selection of STEM activities. There are enough that you could do one a week with your child for an entire year. Each Challenge comes in its own PDF file. This made using them super easy. They are coordinated by season-- four for each month. Some are very much tied to a season, like the Straw Christmas Tree Challenge and the Leprechaun Trap. But most of them can really be done any time of year that your child shows an interest in the topic. 

The STEM Challenges are targeted at kids in 3rd through 6th grade. My youngest kids are in 6th and 7th grade, so at the high end of the age range. I showed them the list of Challenges and let them choose a couple each to work on for this review. Then I took pictures as they completed it. I will show you their favorites as I talk about how the program works.

My 6th grade daughter, Abbie, chose to design a model doghouse. This was not surprising, since she loves anything "animal" and especially dogs. She also did the Superhero BB Challenge.

My 7th grade son, Daniel, chose to design a fidget toy and the Tallest Pencil Tower.

So to begin, the first thing the kids do is read. Right there in the PDF is a link to a secure, kid-safe site. The link takes them straight to the relevant article for their Challenge. 

There was a video that was semi relevant (for the doghouse challenge, it was footage of a girl and her dogs playing in the summer). There are a few questions to get the kids thinking, and then a brief article with scientific information relating to the Challenge (the superhero challenge was linked to the science of zip lines. You can print this information off, but I just had my kids click and read it straight off the screen. Kids can also use a QR code to get it sent to an iPad or other device.

Included in the article were highlighted vocabulary words. If the student clicks on the highlighted "wonder word" the definition pops up for them to read. 

After they read the information, there is a sheet of comprehension questions for the child to answer.

My daughter filled hers out quickly and easily. My son acted like I was torturing him. He was not a fan of any of the worksheets and I eventually gave up having him fill them out and we just discussed them orally. If this was his actual schoolwork, of course, I would have been a little less easy on him but this was supposed to be "just for fun".

Next was the actual design challenge. The challenge was fully explained with criteria, material suggestions and a couple of questions to keep the kids thinking. 

There were a couple of different options of pages for the kids to use to plan their designs each with sections labeled "Ask", "Imagine", "Plan", "Create", "Improve". The different pages are just a different layout with more or less white space depending on whether you want to write or draw or a little of both. 

There is a sheet for the kids to use to draw the process they used, and again, there are a couple of different options/formats. 

Then came the fun part -- actually doing the design. 

Abbie had trouble with her first idea, so she eventually ditched it and went with another material.

This second attempt was more successful. 

My son chose Lego as his materials to make a fidget toy. He is a Lego expert so was able to create his design so quickly I didn't even get a picture of the process! He was pretty happy with the result, though. His siblings were not as excited about the noise level of his fidget!

Finally, there were some sheets for the kids to use to document their Challenge. What went well? What could have gone better?

Daniel was pretty concise. 
"What parts of this project went really well?" 
"The construction." 
"What could I improve upon next time?"
"Use more Lego and make it have more functions."

Abbie believed her project was successful because her imaginary little dog "loved" his new house. 

Finally, there was a page of questions leading them to think about the different STEM aspects in their Challenge. But I couldn't get either of them interested in filling this out.

We enjoyed these challenges. The kids were able to do the first ones mostly independently and the second Challenge they did entirely on their own because they knew the process. Younger kids would probably need more help, of course. My son is highly allergic to writing, so that part was not a hit with him, but they both loved reading the article, watching the videos, and of course, had a blast actually creating their designs!

This would a terrific supplement for your elementary and middle school science curriculum or a fun activity for summer. 

We highly recommend it!

STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading {Tied 2 Teaching Reviews}

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